All posts by Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna @capontedehanna

Listening Comprehension with the Cloze Test

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Most language teachers are likely familiar with the Cloze Test – the omission of specific words in a written passage (every 5th or 9th word, for example) to assess students’ reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge. I have also found them to be extremely useful to teach listening skills.  

When creating your own Cloze Tests, the first step is to find a passage that is at the students’ language level or no more than —as Krashen would advise— i+1 (just ONE above the students’ comprehensible input). The first two sentences and last sentence in the passage should also be kept intact as they give students important background information about the text.

The following steps outline one possible way for instructors to incorporate the Close Test to help students hone their listening skills:

  1. Activate students’ prior knowledge by discussing the topic;
  2. Allow students to listen to the text without reading it;
  3. Introduce the written Cloze passage (no audio) for students to complete on their own;
  4. Double space the text so that students
    1. Write their guesses on the blank spaces;
    2. Have space above their guesses to later make corrections as needed;
  5. Group students to share their vocabulary choices;
  6. Play the recording a second time and ask students to compare their guesses with the audio;
    1. Students should do this on their own first
    2. Then, they should compare and share their answers in their groups;
  7. Play the audio again (twice if necessary) for students to do a final check;
  8. Share the list of correct words with students;
  9. Ask students to discuss their vocabulary choices, including
    1. Parts of speech
    2. Thought groups
    3. Spelling
    4. Pronunciation
    5. Errors and omissions
  10. Give students time to reflect and share with the whole class.

I have found that using the Cloze Test to enhance students’ listening skills gives them more opportunities to make connections between what they hear and what the written word. It also opens opportunities for sharing, practicing pronunciation, and learning from each other.

Can you think of other ways that the Cloze test could be used in the language classroom?

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A Timely Time to Empower College and University Educators

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On November 5, 2020, during TESL Ontario’s 2020 Annual Conference, four professors representing the organization’s Colleges and Universities Committee made a call for interested members to apply to join the committee. Mobayen, McInnis, Meyer Sterzik and Papple —each from different postsecondary institutions— shared the current objectives of the committee as well as its future goals, all meant to build a community of practice (CoP) amongst members who teach in the academic sector. As noted in their presentation, 30% of TESL Ontario members teach in the academic sector; yet I wonder, why aren’t there more members in TESL’s Colleges and Universities Committee?

You might ask: Why is it important for the college/university committee to have representation?  For me, having representation could mean the addition of more PD content that informs and enriches the teaching of English for Academic Purposes (EAP), English for Specific Purposes (ESP), and all other acronyms listed in this presentation, including “EBP” and “ESAP” (L. McInnis, personal communication [slide 21], November 27, 2020).

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Peer Feedback: Not the Sandwich, but Sunny-Side-Up, Please

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Peer feedback (otherwise known as peer assessment) can be useful to both the receiver and the giver of the feedback as long as the feedback is meaningful. For this to happen, peer feedback needs to be constructive; it should start with a positive observation before pointing to an area or areas for improvement; and it should include a suggestion on how to improve, which means that the focus needs to be procedural. This is not the case in the sandwich feedback approach.

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Remote(ly) Adjusting: Endless Possibilities

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March 17, 2020 marked the beginning of a new teaching paradigm for schools all over Ontario as the province began its quarantine efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. As a result, schools had to instantly switch to 100% online delivery, which in a way also marked an acknowledgement that teachers are indeed instructional designers (and rightfully so). After all, instruction is not about technology for technology’s sake, but rather as a means to empower others to learn, to act on their learning, and to become independent, global citizens. With the shift online, it has become evident that as teachers we must embrace technology to be able to operate in a virtual world and do what we do best: Impart knowledge and awaken the desire to know more.

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Getting in the Way of Progress

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This blog post is about the verb “to get,” and how sometimes this verb can get in the way of progress. Biber and Conrad (2001) list the verb “to get” as one of the twelve most commonly used verbs in spoken English, which explains why it would be an important verb to know. However, too much of a good thing can sometimes get in the way of progress. The verb “to get” and all its inflections can end up replacing every other possible verb, which in turn might prevent some learners from moving to the next stage of language proficiency. Continue reading

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Seeing Through My Students’ Eyes

The topic for this post has been on my mind for a while. It is more of a question arising out of my experience with multi-modal text, specifically students’ work when transducing words to image. Perhaps you can help me answer the question:

Whose images should students be required to produce when asked to analyze the author’s writing: The visualization of what they read or what the author intended?

I ask because I have found that controlling what students visualize while reading might be just as controversial as asking students to think in English. Continue reading

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Conscious Scaffolding: Making Teacher Talk Time Matter

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Do you limit teacher talk time in favour of active learning? Good!

Do you limit teacher talk time because your students seem disengaged or don’t understand? Bad…

Let’s face it, teacher talk time (TTT) is valuable. Although it should not be the focus of any lesson, it can certainly be an opportunity to mediate learning, not just facilitate it or curate it. Hence, done purposefully, TTT can help students take better notes, recall valuable information, and differentiate between main ideas and extraneous detail. How can this be?

Let me explain . . . Continue reading

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Word Order Makes It in Kahoot’s Jumble Game

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Have you tried Kahoot’s new jumble game? It’s fun!

If you are an avid reader of TESL Ontario blogs, you would know Nadeen wrote about it in October 2015 – so yes! Kahoot has been around for a long time. You can read her blog here: Use Kahoot to spice up your lesson.

Now for the newness, which soon will be ‘the has been’ since technology moves faster than a speeding bullet (sorry . . . Superman).

Pick from an existing activity

The new Jumble game is great for students at any level who need to practice word order or any other type of sentence structure. Continue reading

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Synchronous Word Clouds . . . At Last!

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Not too long ago I created an activity with my students where I asked them to write three types of literary genres they enjoy the most. The task involved writing three words on index cards. I then asked them to meet in groups to share their words. Group by group, they would come to the podium and add their words on Wordle.net  – adding each word repeatedly at times and only once other times. At the end, I would let WordleTM do its thing.  The result was a collective word cloud that would visualize the commonalities among everyone in my class. Continue reading

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Cans, Wants, and Wills

Concept image of a Calendar with the text: Lessons Learned

This activity is meant to be a student’s journey to self-regulation (see Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997). The activity can take place at any time during the school term and is meant to awaken in students the desire to achieve their goals one step at a time. Hence, the process to self-regulation is the goal. Continue reading

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